The Wolf Esprit

Fiction - Supernatural
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 10/07/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Joseph Stone is a historical, dark-fantasy novelist who lives in San Diego, California. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from San Diego State University and a Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Wolf Esprit is a work of fiction penned by author Joseph Stone in the dark fantasy, adventure, and suspense subgenres. It is part of the Lykanos Chronicles collection but can be read as a standalone novel. The work is best suited to mature readers owing to scenes of sexual violence. This darkly enchanting journey through time and identity is set in 18th-century France. At its heart, the story follows Esprit Lenoir, a seventeen-year-old carnival performer hiding a profound secret: his queer desires that defy societal norms. His journey unfolds as he navigates the intricacies of love, magic, and self-discovery, all against the backdrop of a repressive society. The narrative takes an unexpected turn when Esprit crosses paths with the enigmatic Baron and Baroness du Roussade, who help him embrace his dormant werewolf nature. This transformation allows him to break free from the constraints of human fear and embark on a unique journey through history, driven by love and a profound longing for freedom.

Author Joseph Stone masterfully combines elements of history, the supernatural, and the complexities of identity and queer expression to craft a gorgeous tale with darkness at its edge. As Esprit's wolf awakens, readers are drawn into a captivating tale that explores the timeless quest for belonging and the transformative power of love. One of the features I especially enjoyed was how relatable the LGBTQIA+ experience still is to modern audiences and how well it draws a parallel with the supernatural elements of the tale. Overall, The Wolf Esprit is a testament to the enduring appeal of stories that transcend time and place to delve into the depths of human experience and emotion, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to readers.

Stephanie Chapman

Joseph Stone’s The Wolf Esprit is the third edition of the Lykanos Series. Esprit’s family was part of a group of traveling performers. Esprit felt attracted to men, and his father shunned him after he discovered what he regarded as an affliction. While in Saulieu, Esprit heard a voice in his head and discovered that a man was speaking to him telepathically. Late at night, he heard the voice again and left his tent to find Maximilien, who informed him that he was a Lycan. When the full moon rose, Esprit’s transformation into a wolf began. However, despite his superior abilities, Esprit learned that there were enemies who wanted Maximilien and his wife Gabrielle dead. Vicomte Chastain and the Marquis de Archambault are bent on eliminating them by any means necessary.

Joseph Stone's supernatural tale was shrouded in mystery. The story was narrated through Esprit’s eyes. Due to his preference for men, Esprit constantly needed to hide his differences, and that made him feel alone. Maximilien and Gabrielle provided the parental affection that he had lacked. I was stunned when Esprit returned to Saulieu a year after the treatment he had received from his human family. I also understood why he was vulnerable to any kindness shown to him. The seamless transitions as Esprit traveled from one location to the next made it seem as if I was traveling with him. Each city he stayed in came alive in vibrant detail. The end was shocking to me as I never expected the sudden twist. While this book is part of a series, it could easily be read as a standalone novel. Readers who enjoy reading fantasy stories with unpredictable revelations will enjoy The Wolf Esprit.

Asher Syed

The Wolf Esprit by Joseph Stone revolves around Esprit, who leaves his human family and undergoes a transformation into a lycanthrope. His new identity and relationships are reconstructed under the mentorship of Maximilien and Gabrielle, who also have unique backstories and abilities. Esprit decides that his strength will become a tool for protecting humans. His journey progresses and he meets Duccio. The pair travels through Italy, forging a strong bond. Duccio's revelations about his father emerge and a shock encounter results in a dramatic confrontation. Seeking aid from a prince, Duccio gains support, titles, and power which leads to an incredible shift in his relationship with Esprit. An unconventional proposition from a female named Guccia changes Esprit's perspective of love and companionship. With time comes growth and significant involvement in the making of history, until the past comes back to haunt Esprit once more.

The Wolf Esprit is the third installment in The Lycanos Chronicles and can be read as a standalone, although having missed books one and two I do feel as if I robbed myself of an excellent introduction. The world Joseph Stone has crafted sets itself apart from other books in a crowded genre by emphasizing the struggles of sexuality regardless of how much strength and power a man can achieve. In Esprit's story, one would imagine he is not prone to violence and persecution, but he certainly is. What is heartbreaking are the places such betrayals often come from. I loved the writing and the first-person narrative allowed me the opportunity to experience Esprit's life together with him. The novel spans huge swaths of time but is well-executed. I appreciate Stone's skill of transitioning time organically so there is no sense of loss and the pacing is enhanced as a result. This is a solid work of fiction and I will be going back to read the first two novels, as well as following where Stone takes us next. Very highly recommended.

Miche Arendse

The Wolf Esprit by Joseph Stone follows Esprit, a teenage boy who travels with his family and their troupe of performing artists. Having grown up around such a theatrically orientated group, Esprit naturally developed a talent for acting, music, and especially singing but when his preference for men threatened his position within the troupe he found solace elsewhere. Enter the Baron and Baroness du Roussade who sensed the dormant wolf in Esprit and urged him to leave his old life behind and join them. Upon quitting his troupe he enjoyed many new experiences in an environment free from fear.

The Wolf Esprit by Joseph Stone was an intriguing and at times emotional read. From the outset, Esprit evoked strong feelings as you follow how he struggled with being rejected by his family and others. The only person who seemed to accept him was his childhood friend Thèrése. It made a big impact when you could observe his interaction with Maximilien and Gabrielle who had such an endearing and honest love for him. I feel that this book focused on the emotional and personal growth of Esprit and showed how his fears had initially held him back in life. Once he accepted his wolf identity and lost that fear, we see him thrive. Stone’s writing and ability to describe such wondrous scenes along with creating such emotionally moving characters made this account well-rounded. I found myself immersed in this book. I easily finished it in less than two days and it is well worth reading.

Jamie Michele

The night that Esprit Lenor is rescued from a brutal attack is the moment his entire life changed in The Wolf Esprit by Joseph Stone, book three in The Lykanos Chronicles, preceded by book one, Criminal Beware, and book two, Wolf Omega. Gabrielle becomes the de facto aunt alongside her Lycan husband Maximillian, both educating Esprit on his immortal latent Lycan destiny and grooming him into the man he has the full potential to be. This includes accepting his sexuality and releasing the wolf in him, even when other Lycans think it is being done prematurely. As time passes, Esprit comes under the tutelage of others in a way of life where violence, betrayal, and love are so intertwined that the lines between each are convoluted. This intensifies under Lycan Duccio and later when Esprit meets Guccia.

“Staying here, allowing myself to become their nephew—their son—would mean I would have to die to everyone else in my life.” Joseph Stone gives readers an entry into the life of a Lycan from an origin so that we can learn about Esprit's life, all the mysterious and otherworldly elements, the revelation of lycanthropy, and the concept of Lycans who live hidden among humans, right alongside him. The dark fantasy portions include a huge erotic sizzle and an LGBTQ+ main character in Esprit that evolve authentically with him. Not all encounters are consensual but Stone handles those with great compassion. Moral ambiguity is a cornerstone of dark fantasy, and Esprit's reluctance to embrace the traditional practice of slaughtering humans for sustenance or religious rituals challenges the norms of his society. Until Duccio, Esprit's parental influences were largely founded on love, whereas Duccio's were forged through suffering. Stone deftly uses these to show how nature versus nurture shapes a man entirely, and in doing so, he makes this book not just merely entertaining but thought-provoking as well.